Until Tuesday evening, workers at Lakeland’s McIntosh power plant couldn’t be sure another body wouldn’t turn up. Two bodies had already been found in the same shipment of coal, and the whole delivery still hadn’t been cleared.
Fortunately, workers finished sifting through the tons of coal without finding anything else suspicious. Still, Lakeland Police have a mystery on their hands with two unidentified bodies.
“This is the first I’ve heard of anything like this happening,” says the City of Lakeland Communications Director Kevin Cook.
Cook explained the process, “The coal cars come in on this track that you see in the background and as the coal cars come in on that elevated track, they open up the floor of the coal cars, and they drop the coal into these big piles you see under the track.”
When that happened Monday morning at daybreak, a man’s body dropped out, halting work near the power plant. The CSX coal train arrived from Terre Haute, Indiana.
Lakeland Police spent hours investigating the body. Then, as work continued unloading the very same shipment Tuesday morning, workers found another body, this time of a woman.
“There was some property found with the body yesterday that suggests this was a transient from out of state,” says Ann Dinges with the Lakeland Police Department.
Autopsy results likely confirm those suspicions. Tuesday evening, medical examiners revealed the man suffocated inside the coal, and the woman died from blunt force trauma – possibly from being crushed by the tons of coal. Investigators believe both deaths were accidental.
Still, investigators don’t know where along the thousand mile trip from Terre Haute, Indiana to Lakeland the two may have hopped on-board the train or why.
Police are hopeful they have identified both bodies, but still haven’t reached family members.
10 News contacted CSX Railroad, but the company did not want to comment on any “conclusions about what happened.”